THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 154 – Passionate DIVING

Delta Ep.13.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 13: Passionate DIVING

ICONIC SCENE: Maybe the best Valk launch since the OP of the first series…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 26, 2016

1. We pick up exactly where we left off last time, and one thing is notable here: there’s no OP. As I mentioned at the end of the Frontier TV series, sometimes that would happen with some of the more spectacular episodes of Space Battleship Yamato (and Space Battleship Yamato 2). I always think of it as a signal that we’re going to get an episode jam-packed with lots of cool stuff. And so it is here.

Now, King Grammier really has outwitted Captain Johnson here, since the Macross Elysion has to recharge its fold drive for a while, but the Elysion does score a hit on the Sigur Berrentzs, just as it’s entering fold space. Which ya gotta admit, is something we’ve never seen before.

2. So the fighters fold back, followed soon by the Aether (lucky the Elysion’s “arms” have their own fold drives, isn’t it?), and Delta Flight have a very short amount of time in which to defeat the Windermereans before the NUNS blows up the nuke.

The NUNS asshole, by the way, gets almost cartoonishly nasty here, seeming to be a little gleeful that the Ragnan civilians are still evacuating the area, and that some are likely to get caught in the blast. More evidence for what the novelization comes out and states: that the government officials on earth really don’t think of the other species in the galaxy as being intelligent lifeforms at all.

3. Oh hey, it’s “Forbidden Borderline”! We haven’t heard that in ages! (The version here, by the way, is the “Album Version,” featuring Freyja, that would be released a few weeks later on the first Walküre album.) And the girls have new outfits, too!

(Funnily enough, right before I saw this episode the first time, I was looking at a forum (Animesuki, if I recall correctly), and one of the first posts about the episode started off “HOLY SHIT!!” I stopped reading there, not wanting to spoil myself, but figuring that I was going to be in for a roller coaster ride when I watched it. Which it certainly was. Later, I went back to read the rest of the post and all it said was, more or less, “HOLY SHIT!!” Walküre has new costumes! And they’re much more revealing!” Nothing about the plot at all…)

4. Then the warhead goes off, with the goal of destroying both the Protoculture ruins and the Sigur Berrentzs. It does neither, but it does destroy Hayate’s VF-31J.

The resulting tsunami also knocks Chuck’s sister Marianne off of the Rag-Nyan-Nyan houseboat, which is a thread that remains loose until the final episode. Not that Chuck really seems to care, except intermittently.

Among MY friends, at least, there was considerable debate about whether she could survive or not… since she’s a mer-person, we could at least agree that she wouldn’t drown, although the force of the wave could definitely kill her.

5. The Protoculture ruins get replaced by a structure that folds in in their place. And it’s something that the Sigur Berrentzs can dock with. This never really gets explained, except for, well, the Protoculture could already do basically ANYTHING, right? It seems that the Windermereans were expecting something like to happen, though, and indeed, it’ll happen on all the other planets as well.

Also, King Grammier invokes the name “Rudanjaar Rom Mayan,” which we’ll hear a lot more later on. Whether this has any connection to Macross Zero’s Mayan Island also never gets confirmed, but I think we can assume that it does. At least, I’m imagining that every planet “uplifted” by the Protoculture has its own Mayan Island, with its own Bird-Human left as a failsafe in case the inhabitants are too bellicose.

6. After the eyecatch, Heinz starts singing and the Sigur Berrentzs undergoes a type of transformation above the Protoculture structure. It ends up looking quite a lot like Macross Zero’s Bird-Human, which I guess is only natural. Y’know, for being one of the less well-regarded installments of Macross (and, in Japan, probably the least popular), a lot of Frontier and Delta are built upon its story foundations (and heck, even Macross the First references it in a few different ways).

7. In a beautiful, beautiful scene, Hayate gets into Messer’s VF-31F (although he’s still not wearing a helmet… I thought his old VF-31J was special that way…?) and takes off, as “Walküre Attack” starts playing. Everything here is perfect, from the look of the fighter and the Aether’s deck to the camera angles, to the actual animation. Hidetaka Tenjin at work, folks. The man is brilliant.

What doesn’t get mentioned but should be obvious here is that Delta Flight is going into combat without their ace. Messer was 37% of their effectiveness: they’re crippled here. Just fending off the Aerial Knights might be too much for them, let alone defeating them.

Now, naturally, the main character getting his dead mentor’s fighter (with a skull emblem on it) as a mid-series upgrade evokes the original series pretty strongly, where Hikaru of course got Focker’s VF-1S. The symbolism there was clear: Hikaru was taking over Focker’s leadership role, and it was a passing of the torch. Here, it’s a little less obvious, since Hayate doesn’t automatically become the ace of the team or the leader or anything, really. You’d almost think there’s no change, really. But then…

Hey, remember back in Mission 08 when Hayate had the chance to kill Bogue and didn’t take it, firing at the Draken’s leg instead? Well, here, he doesn’t hesitate at all, and shoots directly at Keith’s cockpit. He doesn’t end up killing Keith, but it’s not for lack of intent. Messer’s death has changed something in Hayate, and he’s not playing around anymore.

(One unfortunate side-effect of that is that the “Immelmann Dance” will virtually never appear again in the show. He’s too serious a pilot for that now. I’ll miss it.)

8. Bogue lunges forward and fires a huge blast at Walküre, which for once actually does break the glass (or glass-like substance) that surrounds their stage (and wounds Mikumo). Then the SIgur Berrentzs fires its cannons to finish them, only to be blocked by the timely arrival of the Macross Elysion. The Elysion is AWESOME in this episode, from protecting Walküre to rising from the ocean and firing one of its cannons. Not only does it look great in itself, but watch all the shots of water sluicing off of it as it emerges from the water. Again, one of the things I like most about Delta is the way the staff will often go above and beyond what they need to do to make a scene look good. Not ALL the time, of course, since this is a TV show with crushing deadlines, but often enough that you can see their love for Macross.

9. Freyja, for her part, goes into the “berzerker mode” (I guess) that we haven’t seen since Mission 01, with her rune going crazy, she starts singing the OP song, and then actually LEAPS OFF THE DECK of the Aether in order to get closer to Hayate.

Her song not only reaches him, but also catches Keith and Heinz off-guard, which probably is what enables Hayate to get that killshot in.

And then she gets caught by Mirage. As Gwyn Campbell of the Speaker PODCast says, you could almost call this “Mirage Catches Everyone – The Episode.”

In the end, it’s not enough. Hayate downs Keith, the Sigur Berrentz is damaged, and King Grammier dies, but still, Xaos has to retreat with a city-ship full of refugees, and Windermere’s plan to control all the Protoculture ruins has been fulfilled. Quite a cliffhanger…

Oh, and when Roid takes over from the dead king (and there’s a crucial piece missing here that will be addressed later), he changes glasses AGAIN. What’s up with that?

10. Macross has never, ever skimped when it comes to the ending of a cour (unless you count the fact that Episode 13 of the original series, “Blue Wind,” looks absolutely godawful), and so it is here. None of the show’s mysteries get explained (or even addressed all that much), but Hayate and Freyja have definitely come into their own and have earned the respect of their colleagues.

But of course the emphasis here is on the action, and it delivers in spades. From the reaction weapon’s explosion, to the dogfights, to the Elysion arriving in the nick of time, this episode is taut and exciting from start to finish, and (to me, at least) stands as one of best battle episodes of any Macross series.

Also, unusually for Delta, there seem to be Frontier-style homages thrown in, as it variously evokes the Dimension Eater destroying Gallia IV (from Frontier), Minmay falling and being caught (from the original series), and the Macross getting its booms destroyed by an enemy beam (from Do You Remember Love).

All in all, it’s a satisfying finale to the satisfying first half of Delta. Can the second half hold up? We’ll see…

OP: None.

ED: Eternity (an instrumental, not a Walküre song.)

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “Forbidden Borderline” is, as I’ve said, a different version, and “If I Love Only Once” has a different vocal take from Minori Suzuki.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 4

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 153 – KING OF THE WIND

Delta Ep.12

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 12: KING OF THE WIND

ICONIC SCENE: Macross Elysion, hasshin!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 19, 2016

1. So right after the Messer Trilogy, we get the two-part finale for the first cour. Watching it week-by-week a year ago, I recall some people complaining that this episode was too slow and the next was too frenetic, but if you watch them together, the pacing and build-up are expertly done.

The opening scene here is a tour de force, as we pick up where we left off with the Sigur Berrentzs about to take care of the NUNS forces around Al Shahal. The ship itself is exceedingly powerful… it doesn’t just have a barrier, for example, it actually creates a dimensional fault around itself for protection. Coupled with Heinz’s Song of the Wind, which causes the crews of the various defense ships AND the inhabitants of the planet to Vár-out, and Al Shahal falls quickly. In under fifteen minutes.

2. Xaos is definitely preparing for the big battle, as forces are gathering on Ragna. As we see the pilots all greeting each other, there’s one particularly attractive green-haired woman who gets focused on a couple of times, and I think the going theory last year was that she would probably end up being Messer’s replacement, but nope. We never see her again.

3. Xaos’s plan is good: launch as soon as possible and attack the Windermereans while they’re still at Al Shahal. Pity it doesn’t work out…

4. Mirage gets a promotion to Delta 2. I’m guessing that Chuck is not really in the running, since he’s got reconnaissance, and also I think Arad knows that being in command of Delta Flight would mean more to Mirage.

Unfortunately, they never change the numbers on the planes, which makes things slightly confusing later on.

5. I may not get another chance later, so let me say that I really like King Grammier’s character design. He really does look like he’s in his thirties, yet he also looks old. I think the “Grayscale” does most of the aging work, but I salute character designer Chisato Mita (who for some reason always has “CAPCOM” after her name) for managing to tackle what must have seemed an impossible task: “Make the guy look old but also thirty-five.”

6. I do wonder… Roid is adamant about not overexerting Heinz (which would shorten his life). Now, he’s got his own reasons for this which we’ll get to later, but… if Heinz dies, who takes the throne? Keith, even though he’s the King’s bastard son? Some relative we haven’t met? I suppose we could assume at this point that Keith is coveting the throne for himself, but that turns out absolutely not to be the case.

7. And then we meet the show’s standard NUNS asshole higher-up, Major Lauri Marin, and yes, he’s a total jerk. Just like the brass in every other Macross series. He delivers the plan that the Protoculture ruins on Ragna are to be destroyed, even though (as we learned before) they’re connected to the core of the planet and no one knows what blowing them up would do.

8. We get the history between Captain Johnson and King Grammier, and also learn that Johnson seems to have a knack for being on the losing side of any conflict. Grammier, however, seems to have a lot of respect for him, echoing Keith’s regard for Messer.

9. And then, finally, we see the Macross Elysion take off and transform. And it’s glorious. One of my favorite bits is the shot of the gravity control system, which is very obviously patterned after the gravity control system on the good ol’ SDF-1.

They fold to Al Shahal, and it looks like the big battle is about to start… and they arrive to find that the Sigur Berrentzs is beginning a fold to Ragna.

Oops.

10. Every Macross TV series, before a really action-packed fight (usually at the end of a cour) has a “girding one’s loins for the battle ahead” episode, and this is no different. The rationale is easy to see: as I’ve said before, the big-battle sequences take a lot of time to animate well, so a calmer episode before it not only builds tension, but gives the animators more time to work on the important stuff. That said, this one doesn’t seem half-assed to me at all. From the writing angle, the characters trying to sum up their feelings before what could possibly be their last mission feels urgent and real (I especially love Reina’s rare outpouring of emotion for the planet she has come to think of as her home), and art-wise, there are also many great scenes. Anything with the Sigur Berrentzs stands out, but I also love the Ragnan houseboats gathering together as everyone tries to evacuate the city.

In Japan, after this episode, the whole series so-far was re-run online in preparation for the end of the first cour. Among western fans, an odd rumor sprung up that the series would take a break after Episode 13 and return in six months or a year or so. That seemed odd to me at the time because no official sources said anything like that, but watching this now, I can see how people could get that impression: the show really feels like it’s building towards a grand finale (and that would help spawn OTHER false rumors later, which I’ve talked about before… and probably will again). So yeah… after the first couple of minutes, there’s no action in this episode, and there isn’t even any singing. But we sure end on a hell of a cliffhanger.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None. In fact, for the first time ever, Walküre don’t sing at all here.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 152 – Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

Delta Ep.11.png

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 11: Jellyfish REMINISCENCE

ICONIC SCENE: PROTOCULTURE!!

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 12, 2016

1. And here we are at the final part of what I think of as “the Messer trilogy,” although by this point it’s obvious that it’s more about Kaname than about Messer. We start off with a short snippet of Messer’s funeral, but it’s everyone else’s reactions at the post-funeral gathering that are more important.

After the opening credits, however, we get into the mental connection between Heinz and Mikumo and Freyja from last episode.

I remember a couple of people wondering about the resolution of the battle from last episode, but it seems to me that that was already basically over. Once Heinz gets KO’d early the in fight, it’s done, except for Keith taking on Messer.

If you’re into the Kaname/Arad relationship, I think their conversation early in this episode is important. He asks her if she needs a break, and she looks… surprised? Taken aback? before smiling and saying she’s okay. And when she asks Arad if he’s okay and he says he is, she gives him a covert look that seems pretty worried.

2. And it turns out that Keith had managed to shoot Messer directly through the heart (even though the beam he fired seemed a lot larger than that). Hayate doesn’t take this well, and we’ll see later how he’s changed because of this.

However, I’m sure Hayate sees contempt in Keith’s precise shot, and that simply isn’t true. Keith shows profound respect for Messer, even getting on Bogue’s case about it.

3. Following that, we learn that the Sigur Berrentzs is able to be activated, and that King Grammier doesn’t necessarily trust Roid all that much… And of course, he shouldn’t, but he doesn’t follow up on it at all. Up to this point, Roid has seemed loyal, but he’ll get shadier and shadier as the show goes on.

4. I find the part where Arad says that their first priority is to find a replacement for Messer in Delta Flight a little odd, because of course that never happens. And there’s the fact that Messer accounted for a whopping 37% of Delta Flight’s effectiveness. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to view Hayate, Mirage, Chuck, and Arad as lovable losers, like the Bad News Bears or something, or if Messer really was absolutely top-tier and everyone else is really good, but just not quite at THAT level.

5. And wow, Walküre training is tough, dragging tires through the mud and rain. The Jamming Birds were shown to have a lot of physical training, but there it was just jogging. This is real boot camp stuff.

6. Windermere’s plan here is finally made explicit. The stuff about the Song of the Wind resonating with the Protoculture ruins is a little baffling, but all we really need to know is that is Windermere takes control of all the ruins, then the entire Brísingr Cluster will be open to their mind-control attacks. And currently, only Al Shahal and Ranga remain free. It still seems small potatoes compared to their declaration of war on the entire galaxy, but that’s for later. From a storytelling perspective, the show is treading a thin line: if the Windermere threat seems too small, then the story lacks tension. If it’s too large, then there needs to be a reason why the NUNS don’t just come along and bomb the shit out of Windermere (similarly, in the first series, there was the excuse that the Zentradi wanted to capture the Macross, not destroy it, or else the show wouldn’t have lasted past Episode 1). That said, there’s no indication that an attack on Windermere would work, considering the dimensional barrier surrounding the planet. But still, at this point, it’s something that the brass seem to figure is a local skirmish, not worth getting involved in. By the time they come around, it’ll be mostly too late.

7. And then we see it: the Sigur Berrentzs. It’s an impressive ship, built at least 500,000 years before by the Protoculture, and, as such, probably the most powerful weapon currently existing. One of the cool things about it, from the production side, it that it was designed by Kazutaka Miyatake, one of the original Studio Nue members, and designer of pretty much all the mecha from Macross (and Plus, and Seven) that aren’t the Valkyries, including the Zentradi ships, which is probably most important here. He’s mostly retired now, although he did design the Bird-Human in Macross Zero (and the Dragons in Cross Ange, and general design in the upcoming anime “Knight’s & Magic”). Anyway, it’s a great throwback, being reminiscent of the Zentradi designs (and the Bird-Human) while not looking QUITE like them.

8. With the big threat revealed in the first half of the episode, the second half is devoted to the traditional Ragnan send-off for Messer. Among the traditions is a little boat that looks like Messer’s VF-31F, to be floated off to sea. Unfortunately, there’s a design flourish on the cockpit that has a red dot pretty much exactly where Keith hit the real thing. The characters are much too polite to point this out, thankfully.

9. The service is mellow and reflective, as befits a memorial. My favorite little touch here is Beth Muscat (the hard-drinking bridge bunny) showing inordinate interest when Chuck notes the twenty-year-old banana sake.

(And er… I know there’s banana liqueur, although I’ve never tried it, but… can you actually make banana WINE…? I dunno… doesn’t sound great to me…)

My second-favorite little touch is the acoustic “Remember 16” that Huck and Zuck play. Another song that maddeningly is not on any of the Delta CDs (yet…?).

My third-favorite little touch is how sharp Captain Johnson looks in his white suit and in his fedora. Two things that keeping coming up in Delta fashion: fedoras and girls wearing ties.

And although we get the expected “Oh, Messer seemed like a real jerk, but he was a nice guy underneath the gruffness” type stuff, the REAL revelation comes when everyone is wading into the ocean singing “Giraffe Blues” and Kaname runs to join them, asserting that there are people who love her songs.

I mentioned a couple of episodes ago how understated the scene where Kaname reveals that she was never popular as a solo singer and that Mikumo is Walküre’s “ace,” and the sense of resignation that she puts into that scene may obscure how important the issue is to her. She had given up, and was okay with it. But not REALLY okay, as we see here. No, there’s still a lot of turmoil under the surface for her, and thanks to Messer, she finally has the courage to face it and really give her all to Walküre as a singer as well as a manager… although this won’t become REALLY important until the end of the series.

And then, in the post-credits scene (although, strangely, the blu-ray version doesn’t have any credits, unlike the TV broadcast), the Sigur Berrentzs attacks Al Shahal, and things don’t look good.

10. We spend a lot more time with the Windermereans in this episode than we have previously, which is necessary since they’re about to launch their big attack. Pretty much all the plot here involves them, whereas the scenes with Xaos are more focused on character. The reveal of the Sigur Berrentzs is pretty amazing, and I like the juggling of different tones in going from that to the quiet memorial for Messer. There’s virtually no action in this episode, but that’s okay… we’re building towards the end of the first cour, which will make up for that.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “Giraffe Blues”

EYECATCH: Hayate’s VF-31J

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Um… does “Remember 16” count…? If not, then none.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 151 – Flash of AXIA

Delta Ep.10

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 10: Flash of AXIA

ICONIC SCENE: Uh… SPOILER ALERT, I guess…

STORY DATE: August 2067

BROADCAST DATE: June 5, 2016

1. Ah, what would a Macross TV series be without a good fake-out episode… dating back to the original series’ “Pineapple Salad,” there’s always an episode which SEEMS to be about one thing (“Max vs. Millia,” “yet ANOTHER failed Varauta attack,” “Ozma’s death flags”) and then turns out to be about something different (“Focker’s death,” “City 7 being forcibly folded away,” “Ozma NOT dying”), and so it is here. If you were checking the story synopses that were posted on the macross.jp site every week, this episode seemed like the Delta equivalent of the “school festival” episode that is a staple of so many high school anime series (as well as being the basis for one of the greatest anime movies ever, Urusei Yatsura 2 – Beautiful Dreamer). And it is indeed about that. Until, at the very, VERY end, it isn’t.

2. But before we get there, let’s start at the beginning. It’s been clear for a while now that the Windermereans aren’t meant to really be bad guys, in that none of them seem outright evil. So when we’re introduced to Berger Stone here, with his oily voice and Middle Eastern clothing, we might think we’re being introduced to the Final Boss of the series (note that I’m not saying that Middle Eastern clothing is representative of a villain, but the show might be saying that).

And yeah, he’s an amoral weapons dealer, which is rarely a good sign (unless we’re talking about Iron Man).

He mentions the Sigur Berrentzs for the first time, which, from the name, we might assume is a Zentradi fortress, since Bodolzaa’s mothership in the original series was called the Fulbtzs-Berrentz. It isn’t, but you’re on the right track.

3. And NOW we’re at the Jellyfish Festival, which is very much a “couples” event. Heck, even Don the Mercat is hookin’ up!

The Rag-Nyan-Nyan booth is selling jellyfish buns, and seems a little under-crowded considering that a galaxy-famous pop group (excuse me, I mean “tactical sound unit”) is running the booth. And Reina is wearing an awesome jellyfish costume, which seems quite at odds with her cool demeanor. And, in advertising the buns, Chuck’s littlest sister, Elizabeth, even throws in a Sheryl reference (“We don’t do this kind of jellyfish bun service very often!”). They also all sing the rather existentialist “Jellyfish Dance” song, the main message of which is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” The whole thing is pretty silly, and that’s intentional.

4. And it looks like that after last episode’s freak-out, Messer is being transferred out of combat duty, to become an instructor in the Laramis System, which I guess isn’t close, since it’s not on any of the maps we see in the show. So yeah, we’re saying goodbye to Messer here, unless there’s some kind of twist in store…

5. And of course, Mikumo is off on her own, floating naked in the ocean. You’d think she’d have to be more careful… paparazzi can be pretty tenacious, and I’m sure there are plenty of magazines that would love to get their hands on nude pics of Mikumo. Although I can’t imagine her getting upset about that, or even caring at all.

6. And since Messer’s leaving, there’s a big focus on his saying goodbye to Kaname and finally telling her that “AXIA” is the song that saved him. The next day, he’s off on his shuttle. I suppose one could imagine that the two of them hooked up that night, but it doesn’t seem like it would be like either of them to do that, unfortunately.

7. Roid and Keith have a swordfight to determine whether or not Heinz should sing or rest in the upcoming operation. Roid is on the side of keeping Heinz healthy, Keith wants to use him as much as possible.

Keith wins, which really is something Roid should keep in mind going forward.

The duel itself is really well done. Every time we see the Windermereans in action, it’s always dynamic and fluid.

8. So another attack is launched on Al Shahal, which is one of the two planets left in the Cluster that have Protoculture ruins that haven’t been taken by Windermere (the other being Ragna, of course).

Before the dogfight, there’s something of a song battle between Walküre and Heinz, using the Protoculture ruins as amplification. It ends in something of a draw, but Heinz is knocked out of commission, which essentially ends Windermere’s attack, although the Aerial Knights press on a bit, hoping to take down Delta Flight, who without Walküre or Messer, are kinda hopeless.

9. And, of course, Messer comes roaring in to save the day. He’s turning Vár, and Mikumo and Freyja are in a bad way, so it’s up to Kaname to keep him safe with “Axia.” And that part of the strategy works.

The dogfight is extremely fierce, recalling nothing so much as the big battle between the YF-19 and the YF-21 in the last episode of Plus.

Ultimately, though, Keith pulls a samurai move of having a decoy in front of you that your opponent attacks, leaving them off guard for your thrust.

And one blood splatter later, Messer is gone.

10. And yes, as much as it appeared Messer wouldn’t survive to the end of the series, killing him off this soon shows some serious balls and, as far as I can tell, took EVERYONE off guard. One thing that may not have been obvious on first viewing but is clear in hindsight is that all of this is really more about Kaname and her development than it is about Messer. But in case that’s still presented too subtly, next episode will come out and say it.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “AXIA ~Love and Hate~”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Rag-Nyan-Nyan Jellyfish Dance.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 150 – Uncontrollable LIMITS

Delta Ep.9

MACROSS DELTA

MISSION 09: Uncontrollable LIMITS

ICONIC SCENE: Don’t lie. You know you ship it.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 29, 2016

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

1. I kinda fudged the title here, because in Japanese, nearly all of the titles have a Japanese word followed by an English word, like, say, “Senjo no Prologue” or “Kakugo no Audition.” Here, the title is “Genkai Uncontrol,” but the official subs give it as “Uncontrollable Limits,” so I capitalized “limits” in the hopes that no one would notice. Fingers crossed.

And yes, this is the episode that’s entirely about Messer. Now usually, when you’ve got an episode about one of the side characters (and I guess Messer is a side character…? Maybe…?), it means death flags are looming. I’m pretty sure no one expected Messer to get out of this series alive.

2. I like the meeting where Arad is telling everyone that the apple and water imports have been suspended, because Mikumo is sitting off from the others, clearly not listening. For all that she’s serious about singing, she’s only occasionally serious about other stuff.

The scene is interesting also for being one of the few times the show really pushes the love triangle aspect. Hayate, in the previous battle, resonated closely with Freyja (which puts Mirage out a bit), but Kaname says there’s no cure for the Vár, which Hayate and Mirage know that Messer has, but they’re keeping secret. They nod to each other and Freyja notices (which puts her out a bit). When Kawamori at an early talk pointed out that the triangle in the Delta logo was “broken” because the love triangle wouldn’t play out as people might expect, I’m not sure most viewers realized that that meant that the love triangle here would barely exist. Yes, there are a few bones thrown to Mirage, but it’s still mostly Freyja’s game.

3. The secret here, that Messer is already infected with the Vár, doesn’t really end up meaning much, because it’ll turn out that everyone in Xaos, from Lady M to Arad, already knows. Basically, Hayate and Mirage were the only people who didn’t already get it, so they’re keeping a pretty useless secret.

What IS secret is Messer’s mp3-playing bracelet, which has one song on it: “AXIA” (which is Greek (ἀξία) for “value” or “worth”). It’s sung by Kaname, and Walküre evidently don’t perform it anymore, since neither Hayate nor Mirage have heard it before. We’ve already seen that Kaname seems to like Messer, and this is the first indication we’ve had that the feeling is reciprocated.

Frustrated love where both characters like each other but can’t express it is always a big crowd-pleaser, isn’t it? In this case, it completely overwhelmed a portion of the fandom, and Kaname/Messer fanart remains one of the biggest subjects from the series.

(Likewise, when I was talking to some of the staff from Satelight at last year’s Anime Expo, they asked me who I thought was the most popular character among western Macross fandom. I said that it was probably Mirage, but that Kaname was becoming more popular. They looked at each other, nodded, and both said, “Hm. Messer.” They weren’t wrong.)

4. What the hell is up with Freyja’s phone and Q-Lulu? It’s weird enough that the phone seems to be picking up Freyja’s slang, but Q-Lulu also seems to have fallen for it.

For those attempting to keep track, someone at this time made an awesome chart detailing all the relationships in this show. Which, er, stops being relevant next episode…

Delta Love Chart

5. Next we get the rather sad story of Kaname, who wanted to be an idol but just never had that special something that turns someone into a real star. First she tried to be a solo idol singer, and that didn’t work out. Then there was Walküre, where she was the “ace” until Mikumo joined and became the star.

Naturally, this happens all the time in the real world. People who are good or even great, but just don’t have that certain star quality. Hell, one of my cousins, a very beautiful woman, tried for many years to break into modeling and acting, and whose claim to fame is just a very brief part in the opening to “The Love Boat” (I think she announced that the ship was launching or something… I dunno. It’s been a very long time…).

Kaname’s voice actress, Kiyono Yasuno, plays this scene perfectly: completely matter-of-fact, with no self-pity. The art here is also perfect, as she’s dressed casually, with a slightly wistful look on her face which isn’t overdone. The scene could easily be played for maximum tear-jerking, but it’s so understated and calm that it seems entirely realistic, and turns Kaname into a character that is easy to sympathize with and root for. If they had made a bigger fuss of it, she could come off like a selfish diva, but they sidestep that pitfall.

6. I just want to point out that in the scene where Walküre is singing to the underwater ruins, Mikumo’s hair is sticking out of her helmet, so I don’t really understand how her helmet works…? Knowing Mikumo, she probably doesn’t need to breathe or something…

Plus, the Protoculture ruins that we’ve seen in this series seem to be reminiscent of the City Ship Altira that Hikaru and Misa found themselves on in Do You Remember Love, except that that was just a space ship. These have “roots” that connect to the core of each planet.

7. Let’s be honest, as Hayate and Mirage point out, Messer is a powder keg waiting to blow. If he falls to the Vár in combat, he says that everyone else should shoot him down, but clearly, none of the other Delta pilots are skilled enough to do that.

8. The dogfight here has some really superb scenes. My favorite is probably Bogue skimming the surface of the ocean and then pulling up to fly over the Macross-Class city ship to attack Walküre. And then he lunges forward. That’s mah boy!

9. And finally we get the touching-yet-fateful scene where Freyja tells Messer that she’s too busy focusing on the here and now to worry about the future. Good advice? We’ll see…

10. Look, it’s pretty clear that Messer is doomed. The only question is when. Watching it again, the Kaname/Messer sparks are probably the most distinctive thing about this episode, but the dogfight, while short, is also really well-done, and Freyja’s misplaced jealousy is cute. As in the previous episode, there are also a number of plot lines begun here, primarily about the Protoculture ruins. Most of this episode is really a set-up for the next episode, though, as this is the beginning of what I think of as the “Messer Trilogy.”

EYECATCH: Don and Q-Lulu

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: AXIA

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 3

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 149 – Escape RESONANCE

Delta Ep.8

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 08: Escape RESONANCE

ICONIC SCENE: Valkyrie vs. Walküre.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 22, 2016

1. I find this one interesting, because the script was written by Ukyou Kodachi, who seems to have become the official chronicler of Macross. I’ve mentioned him many times before, but in brief, he was chosen to write the novelizations of Frontier (coming out with a whopping’ EIGHT of them) and and also created the stories for Macross the Ride and Macross 30. Currently, he’s writing the Delta novels (as well as a rather mind-boggling array of other anime and game novelizations). Generally in Macross, the writers for the show end up writing the novels, and this is the only time it’s happened in reverse.

His main credit on Delta, though, is for “continuity.” When the staff wants to know when, say, the Megaroad was last seen or what was going on in 2047, he’s the one that they ask. I flatter myself by thinking that that’s a job that I could do as well…

2. One thing that’s clear at the beginning of the episode is what “superhuman abilities” the Windermereans have. They’re very quick and very strong, and Hayate and Mirage get trounced (deliberately?) comically fast.

Watching this episode a year ago, Bogue was easily the most annoying character for me, so seeing him get so cocky in this episode was… unpleasant. Watching it again, after I’ve come to think of him as fundamentally cute, but trying to be a badass (like when kittens start acting tough by hissing at everything and hopping sideways), this scene is more fun. A character like Bogue has to strike a delicate balance. As the show goes on, we’re meant to see that he’s really just immature and not terribly threatening, but that he’s trying to compensate by showing over-the-top bravado. And thus he ended up gaining my uneasy sympathy. However, if he were to go too far and actually kill one of the heroes, that sympathy would vanish completely. On the one hand, I find him a realistic character: an insecure kid who wants to hang with the big boys and, to that end, acts the way he thinks the big boys act: that is, as a total dick. The balancing act for the writers is in making sure that his “dick” side doesn’t overwhelm the “kid” side. Since at first, all we see is the dick, and the kid slowly shows through the cracks, having him be TOO effective could ruin the character. At the same time, they can’t just make him a total loser – there has to be a reason he’s one of the Aerial Knights, after all. So it’s an issue of making him ACT ruthless and making us see his capacity for ruthlessness, without actually having him do anything drastic enough that the audience would think, “Whoa, dude… NOT COOL.” It’s interesting that when they DO cross that fine line, it’s not in Bogue’s actions towards Walküre, but his words towards another Aerial Knight that do it. And yet, he regained my sympathy fairly quickly.

Still, it’s only on a second viewing that I realize how carefully a character like Bogue has to be written and performed (KENN, who is a singer first and an actor second, does an excellent job here) in order make us see his contradictions without them making him just seem arbitrary.

Here, I think his key line is the insult he hurls at Freyja (while his sword is uncomfortably close to her neck… and yes, I think there’s some subtext here), when he calls her “this impertinent brat that can’t even control her own rune?” Which of course is one of Bogue’s flaws as well. It’s a deft scriptwriting touch, making him sound tough, but also reminding us of a couple of episodes ago, when he was definitely portrayed as the “kid” of the group.

As a final note here, I also want to point out that he’s Minori Suzuki’s favorite character in the show. Make of that what you will.

3. Meanwhile, in the firefight with our other heroes, Messer gets hit in the arm. If I recall correctly, I (and I’m sure I wasn’t alone) was already seeing death flags around his character, especially clinched when he seems to go a little crazy while fighting off the Voldoran guards, and has flashbacks to a ruined city with himself covered in blood. I figured he wouldn’t last past Episode 20 or so. Ha.

4. Another deft scriptwriting touch comes when Bogue (beating Hayate rather sadistically) declares that Windermere’s cause is righteous in bringing freedom to the galaxy, and Freyja brings up the only part of their plan she really cares about: the use of apples to spread the Vár. On the one hand, she’s being naive in ignoring larger political concerns. But on the other, she’s got a point (as Master Hermann says). I wouldn’t call her a nationalistic character in the slightest, but (like many who leave the environment they grew up in for a very different one) she feels real pride in her home, centered on the fact that Windermere apples are a really popular export. I felt much the same way when I saw See’s Candies in Tokyo or when they were testing In-n-Out Burger in Harajuku for a day. Anyway, once word gets out about the apples’ connection to the Vár, their sales will plummet, and who knows what will happen to the poor apple farmers back in her home town? Her concerns are more localized than most of the characters’, but are still totally legitimate.

Kassim brings it back to the wider war, pointing out that his apple orchards were destroyed seven years ago, so all the apple farmers in his family are dead, rather than just out of work. It’s… kinda persuasive.

Also, does Bogue really believe the stuff he’s saying? My guess that he probably does. As we’ll see later, some of the Knights have qualms about Windermere’s methods, but none of them seem opposed to its ends.

5. Keith nearly executes Freyja here, acting of course like he’s doing her some kind of patriotic favor, only to stopped by Roid. Roid’s motives here were baffling on first viewing, and he says only that he wants to know more about Walküre. The second time around, it’s pretty clear that his plan of using the Star Singer is already in place, and that he knows that Walküre has some connection, but may not know WHICH Walküre member is tied to the legend.

And then we get the rescue of Hayate, Mirage, and Freyja, naturally staged as a Walküre concert. Again, music doesn’t work against the Aerial Knights, but distracting light shows and decoy holograms sure do. Bogue seems, more than the others, to be enraged (and slightly terrified) by the girls, especially Reina. This will be elaborated on later.

6. The fight between Messer and Keith (where Messer has a machine gun and Keith has a sword) is well-done and over much too soon. In what could be seen as foreshadowing, Keith gets in close and wins the match (to be fair, Messer IS wounded). However, they recognize each other and he lets Messer go, because, naturally, he’s an HONORABLE knight, and wants to defeat Messer in the air.

Er… usually when villains say things like this, they’re setting up their own defeat, plot-wise.

And oh wow… is that HUMOROUS BANTER that Messer and Hayate engage in before they launch…? See, I guess Messer really IS a good judge of character and knows how to motivate Hayate.

7. When the dogfight starts, Walküre changes into their “Rot Blume” (“Red Flower”) costumes, which are just a color swap for the “Blau Blume” costumes a few episodes ago. Later, we’ll see the black ones, called “Schokolade Blume,” or “Chocolate Flower.” I’m mildly surprised that, as of this writing, the toy companies have not exploited this and made variant color figures of all three versions yet.

Oh, and Messer looks really REALLY bad when the Song of the Wind starts up. And as the battle goes on, he definitely starts Vár-ing out.

The song used here, “NEO-STREAM,” is formally one of the oddest Walküre songs, feeling like three different songs welded together. It starts as a ballad, then picks up speed, before turning into some powerful ’60s garage rock chords (if not instrumentation, which, like most Walküre songs, sounds a little more disco, with a string section). It’s also mostly in English, which JUNNA as Mikumo sings incredibly well. Much better than, say, Nao “Reina” Toyama…

8. We never really get an explanation what “riding the Wind” means, but here is where we really SEE it (and the staff is confident enough that we’ll pick it up) as Keith and Messer both seem to transcend human limitations and move and react incredibly fast, essentially becoming Gundam-style Newtypes. In Messer’s case, of course, it’s incredibly dangerous, because while he’s using the Vár to enhance his abilities, it could overwhelm him at any point (which is the main reason that Walküre has to be singing here… although, I wonder… if Walküre’s song is TOO strong, wouldn’t that cancel his ability to “ride the Wind”…?). The show doesn’t bring up that it’s potentially dangerous for Keith as well, as using such abilities makes Windermereans age faster.

It’s also clear at this point that the dogfight scenes must be time-consuming to animate, which is why there are several shots where we pull out from the close-up shots and the planes are just represented by glowing dots. This doesn’t really bug me too much, because the closer shots are pretty gorgeously drawn and choreographed. In short bursts, this show looks even better than the Macross Zero or Macross Frontier movie dogfights. Quality over quantity.

9. A mind-controlled pilot almost gets Walküre, and wouldn’cha jus’ know it, it’s the SAME pilot whose kids were singing to him last episode. Hayate and Freyja see this, and so definitely don’t want to kill him, and Freyja gets her first real turn at being a singing badass who faces down a variable fighter with only “Giraffe Blues” (and Hayate’s pinpoint barriers) for protection.

It works, of course, although Bogue attacks. Hayate goes after him, and in yet another event that will developed later, resonates with Freyja so strongly that HE starts “riding the Wind” as well. They close in, yell at each other, and then Hayate, crucially, has a chance to kill Bogue, but hits his Draken’s leg instead.

(It’s funny, isn’t it…? In the US, though not in Japan, kids who saw Macross on TV (as Robotech) tend to note the lack of GI Joe-style parachutes being ejected from all the planes as one of the astonishing things about the show. Yet here, Hayate feels relief when he sees a parachute, and when he doesn’t kill an enemy pilot. You can see why his character might turn off some of the more, um, bellicose viewers of the show…)

And then we get the post-credit stinger, as Messer is back on the ship, very nearly going full Vár…

10. So, as I’ve indicated, a lot of plot threads begin here, although this is primarily an action episode. We also get the first real problem within Delta Flight itself, which is Messer’s susceptibility to the Vár. Although this episode didn’t make all that big an impression on me a year ago, now I see as one of the show’s most well-crafted in terms of balancing action, character, and plot.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: The Macross Elysion.

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: NEO-STREAM

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 148 – Behind ENEMY LINES

Delta Ep.7

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 07: Behind ENEMY LINES

ICONIC SCENE: Messer with cat ears.

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 15, 2016

1. We open with an explanation of the Protoculture and how they uplifted a number of races in the galaxy… but where are the Zolans? Don’t they count?

Then we go to Reina breaking through Voldor’s defenses to the tune of “Silent Hacker,” the one song from the first half of the show that wasn’t on Walküre’s first album. Like “Idol Talk” not being on the first Macross Plus soundtrack CD, or (most crucially) “My Boyfriend Is a Pilot” not being on the first SDF Macross soundtrack album.

2. And okay, yes, the hacking scene here is entirely ridiculous. Hacking tends to be rather uninteresting, visually. And so Hollywood (and by extension, anime) tends to work very hard to make it look cool. And look cool it does, here. It may not be accurate, but it gives us a good view of Reina’s green chomping skulls. Heck, we even see her react physically to their destruction. I’ll be the first admit that it makes no sense, but I think the Rule of Cool is at play here. At least, as far as character development goes, it shows that Makina and Reina work together as a team in perfect synch.

3. So this week, we’re infiltrating the planet Voldor, whose natives are cat-people. Freyja naturally starts making a lot of cat-puns until she’s quickly (and thankfully) shut down. Now… the big question is why Walküre and the pilots from Delta Flight would be the undercover operatives of this mission. I mean, I understand that Walküre on Al-Shahal in Ep. 1 are undercover, waiting for the Vár Syndrome attack, but here, it makes very little sense, even with Arad’s idea that everyone needs to be “an absolute Johannes Fac-totum” (or, in this case, a jellyfish-of-all-trades).

Still, it’s hard to get away from the idea that the entire point here is to show our main characters wearing cat ears. Although I’m slightly sorry that the cat puns stop before Messer shows up (see Iconic Scene), since I would’ve loved to hear him bust out a few “Nyaa”s.

4. The real star here is Thomas Romain, for his excellent “world design.” Voldor looks nothing like the other planets we’ve seen, but is still totally appealing. It’s also, I think, the most like Tokyo in its blatant commercialism and its rows of pub after pub.

5. What the hell is “Seidznole”? Something to do with the Vár, apparently. We’ll get more info about this soon, but it never really gets explained well.

Oh, and we find out that the apples here are imported from Windermere. That’ll be important, no matter how much Mirage protests that it isn’t.

6. Interestingly, we get a Walküre song sung by fans before we hear the actual version (just like “Diamond Crevasse” in Episode 2 of Frontier). Here, it seems primarily thrown in as a sop for those who hate that Macross shows always end up with singing converting the bad guys and saving the day (something that, again, is deliberately disproven in the first episode, since singing works against the Vár, but not the Aerial Knights).

By the way, the song here, “Giraffe Blues,” is, despite the silly name, one of the saddest and most affecting songs in all of Delta. Up there with the aforementioned “Diamond Crevasse,” in my opinion.

7. Here we learn that Roid is a scholar, who has authored a tract about how the Windermereans, being the last lifeforms uplifted by the Protoculture, are their final, most perfected creations. Here, it gets broadened into ALL species in the Brísingr Cluster. But Roid doesn’t really mean that.

And yeah, in one way it seems strange and unlikely that we would suddenly meet a whole bunch of alien races a the same time. On the other hand, they’re all clustered (ha) together in one area of the galaxy… an area we haven’t seen before, because (in Seven and Frontier) we’ve been too focused on Emigration Fleets headed towards the galactic center. Much like the Unified Government, who also seem nonplussed that these other species have their own hopes and dreams, as well as agencies to carry them out.

Also, we get the first suggestion that Windermere detonated a Dimension Eater on its own soil as a false flag attack. This is gonna come up again…

8. We get a bit of backstory regarding Makina and Reina, that they used to apparently not get along. That will also come up again.

Also note that the explosive charges Makina sets leave bunny-shaped holes.

And, again, the song used here, “Jiritic Beginner” is the most-hated song among the staff working on the official English subtitles. I dig it, though.

9. And finally they discover how Windermere is spreading the Vár, through apples and water. At conventions now, I usually make a point of bringing apples and bottles of water, and give them to any Delta cosplayers that I meet. Or I just eat the apples for effect. Unfortunately, at the Anime Expo last year, a Makina and Reina duo that I was talking to didn’t get it, so it must have appeared to them that I was just munching the apple in a creepy way. Ah well.

And our intrepid team gets discovered, and Hayate, Mirage, and Freyja get separated from the others (while Mikumo is, as usual, off doing her own thing. Full clothed this time, though). One might expect that this will turn into another patented “people trapped and discussing things” Macross episode, but it isn’t. Instead, the Aerial Knights, led by Bogue, find them, and we end on a big cliffhanger.

10. So, a lot gets covered in this episode, including the Dimension Eater detonated on Windermere, and how the Vár is infecting so many people, but there’s very little action in this episode. Now, I’m not an adrenaline junkie; I don’t need explosions every five minutes to keep me occupied, but in hindsight, this episode is one of the first hints that Delta would become an exceptionally talky series, even before Berger makes his debut. Walküre and Delta Flight being the infiltrators gets explained, but still seems kind of implausible. It’s not a bad episode by any stretch, but as I said before, I think Thomas Romain’s brilliant world design does most of the heavy lifting, visually. And although we don’t fully hear it in this episode, I think “Giraffe Blues,” despite the odd name, is one of the most beautiful and affecting songs in all of Macross. Up there with “Do You Remember Love” and Sheryl’s power ballads.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-31J (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: “Giraffe Blues.”

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 147 – Decision OVERLOAD

Delta Ep.6

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 06: Decision OVERLOAD

ICONIC SCENE:It’s showtime!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 8, 2016

1. Messer’s kind of being a passive-aggressive jerk at the start of this episode, calling in Chuck, Mirage, and Hayate for instruction, and then ignoring Hayate until Hayate pushes him for it. I know, I know, he’s just trying to make sure that Hayate cares enough, but it’s still kind of a dick move.

His instruction is to tell Hayate to shoot to kill, rather than try to spare the lives of the enemy pilots. Which is a nice little bit of symmetry with the end of the episode, where Hayate actually does kill someone.

It’s also interesting to note that stuff has definitely been going on between episodes, as Messer says for the last three battles, Hayate’s been targeting the enemy’s wings. Since his only real battle so far has been in Episode 4, clearly at least two more have taken place since. Likewise, in the next scene, we learn that three other planets have surrendered to Windermere.

2. And as usual, if Messer’s hard on Hayate, then Mikumo is hard on Freyja, here for having no life to her singing. Mikumo also seems fascinated by Heinz’s song of the wind… and, er, there’s a reason for that…

3. I think it’s interesting that when Makina scolds Hayate about how roughly he treats his VF-31, she’s echoing her ancestor, Old Man Nakajima from Macross Zero, who said virtually the same thing to Shin.

And it’s come to my attention that there are fans who don’t think Makina and Reina are a couple. I dunno… I mean, they never come out and SAY it, but it seems pretty blatant to me that they’re together.

4. I think this episode is where a lot of fans started getting interested in a possible Messer-Kaname romance, since she keeps inviting him out, and he keeps declining. And of course, it’s not to be.

5. The battle in this episode is one of the few space battles in this series, which happen about as infrequently as atmospheric battles did in Frontier. It’s definitely nice to see the VF-31s fitted with FAST packs (and sound boosters).

There’s an interesting bit when Hayate gets into his cockpit and starts up the ARIEL system, which, as far as I can tell, is an AI system first testing with the VF-19. All the info on that is contained in the VF-19 Master File book, and I like that they’re taking stuff from that (really cool) series of mecha books and adding it into the show.

6. After fighters get ready, Walküre’s stage rises and (as you can tell from my “iconic scene” here, I think there’s something really great about it. Mostly because of the music. It’s the track “Xaos,” which is on the first OST, and the shot of Walküre rising, seen from behind, with space as the backdrop, and THOSE DRUMS is really effective.

The staff must’ve thought so, too, since the scene later became a central part of the second opening title sequence.

7. The new song in this episode, “Walküre Attack,” which would later become the title of their first album (and which seems a rather unimaginative name) is the first one that I didn’t really like all that much. I later grew to love it, but I think it works better on the album than it does in this episode.

8. There’s also a strange visual component to the battle, with Delta Flight launching little balls that project film of Walküre on to the asteroids around them all. And I still don’t understand how, if the girls’ vocals only affect the Vár when performed live, how a concert broadcast over the radio can work. But somehow it does.

Most of the battle here is impressively done, but I have to laugh a bit when an Itano Circus of missile launching is shown (as it the first battle in Do You Remember Love) just on the radar screen.

And finally, Bogue lunges forward (using different animation than was used in Episode 1) and attack Walküre. Probably would’ve killed them, too had Hayate not kicked him out of the way.

9, We meet a new Aerial Knight, Sir Gura, who is the spitting image of Bellri, the hero of Gundam Reconguista in G. Hayate ends up (mostly accidentally) killing him.

And, let’s face it, the mecha pilot who makes his first kill and then is mired in guilt about it for the next ten episodes is kind of an anime cliché, isn’t it? Which is why I love it when Mirage goes to talk to him, and he agrees with what she’s saying and cheers back up immediately. Such a change from your average Gundam pilot!

10. The centerpiece of this episode is definitely the battle, and it’s done effectively and is actually rather beautiful.

And again, it feels like each episode is presented a discrete step in Hayate and Freyja’s education towards becoming real pros, and that’s continuing here, with Messer and Mikumo being harsher than ever.

The Windermerean mystery is also expanded a bit as Keith takes Heinz to Scarfell, to see the ruins left by the Dimension Eater that was detonated on Windermere. But more about that later.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-1EX (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Walküre Attack

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 2, although again, this uses different animation, so I’m not ENTIRELY sure it counts.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 146 – Moonlight DANCING

Delta Ep.5

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 05: Moonlight DANCING

ICONIC SCENE: She’s your white bunny…

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: May 1, 2016

1. I have to admire that Macross always sticks to its guns regarding its timeline, even though a good portion of it is now alternate history, rather than a projected future. Notably, this episode starts off with a recap of human emigration throughout the galaxy, saying that it started in the year 2012, which must have been a head-scratcher for casual viewers.

That said, it’s not all as careful as one might like, since we see here (and have already seen, anyway) the New Macross Class ship that landed on Ragna, which was supposed to have happened “about fifty years prior” (that is, roughly THIS year). First, as I said before, that seems a little early to get this far away from earth, and second, the New Macross Class ships were created much later.

Oh well, at least we get a cool shot of the Megaroad-04 approaching Windermere IV.

Now, the show doesn’t really go into it much, but according to the first Delta novel, the New Unified Government is still pretty earth-centric in its thinking and doesn’t really view the various aliens they encounter as terribly worthy of much consideration. Again, this is never said in the show itself, but it definitely informs the NUNS’ attitude towards the Windermereans.

Roid gives a short account of the arrogance of humanity in their dealings with Windermere, which led to the war of independence seven years prior. Now, I’m sure he’s biased, but I would imagine (and the series supports) that there’s some truth to what he’s saying.

Still, he’s announcing that they’re taking on the entire galaxy here, which SEEMS insane, except that the Windermereans have a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Indeed, it’s probably only the New Unified Forces’ arrogance that allows the Windermereans to get so far… if the threat had been taken seriously from the get-go, this would most likely be the final episode of the show, ending with a bunch of fried Aerial Knights and a gaping crater where the King’s castle used to be.

2. PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Well, of a sort. No one ever made these exact jellyfish chips that we see Freyja declaring “gori-delish,” but Babystar Ramen did release Macross Delta themed ramen snacks (basically if you took a package of instant noodles and hit it with a hammer a few times) in “spicy jellyfish flavor.” I got a few packages and thought they were good but not excellent.

Arad shows up and gives them the low-down on Windermere and the Aerial Knights, and we see not only the young King Grammier, but also the Knights’ previous fighter, which looks a lot like an F-104 Starfighter. It’s also revealed that Arad and Captain Johnson were involved in the war of independence, seven years prior. Even at this early point in the series, it’s pretty obvious that everything’s going to come back to that.

3. Back on Windermere, things are still pretty mysterious, with lots of so-far undefined terms like “Domain of Wind” and “Temple of Time” getting bandied about. What is clear is that Roid and Keith have disagreements about the war (and about using Prince Heinz) and that Hermann and Cassim aren’t quite sure they’ll live long enough to see the war through.

Bogue also pulls the old martial arts trick of trying to catch his old master unawares (parodied decades before in Dragonball, where Chi-chi tries to “test” the old Turtle Hermit, who ends up with her blade sticking out of his forehead).

At this point, Bogue still seems like an insufferable, loudmouth jerk, although Cassim’s indulgent smile at Bogue’s braggadocio is noteworthy, as is Hermann’s admonition to the little brat to “control his runes.” Thus, we are led to start viewing Bogue as something of a comic figure, rather than just an asshole. For me, at least, it mostly works, some times more than others.

Bogue, by the way, is apparently Minori Suzuki (the actress who plays Freyja)’s favorite character, and in the Facebook Macross Delta group that I co-admin, declaring a month of “Bogue-vember” last year was mostly a success, with some ojections, although I’m unsure how much of the support was genuine and how much was ironic.

Regarding the runes: a lot of attention and care seems to be put into making them consistent in the series, showing the emotions of the Windermerean characters. Especially with Bogue and Freyja, looking at their runes will never steer you wrong if you want to know how they feel.

4. Back on Ragna, there’s a meeting called, telling everybody in Xaos that they’re free to quit if they want, since once they go to war, there’s no backing out. Something of a change from SMS, which had that article of contract that they invoked, saying, more or less, “Sorry, you CAN’T quit now, even if you want to.”

Everyone agrees, of course, except for Hayate, which becomes the central plot thread for this episode, although… is there ever any doubt…? We know he’s the main character after all.

5. Mikumo gets to be bitchy again, telling Freyja that everyone thinks she’s a spy. I have to say it, I always love Mikumo when she’s being mean to Freyja while casually studying her fingernails or putting on makeup or whatever. Mikumo’s journey in the story is all about breaking down the (fake) shield of effortless perfection that she puts up and replacing it with a confidence that’s warmer and more grounded, but in the later episodes, I kinda miss her snark. It’s especially effective because we never really know if she’s goading Freyja into upping her game, or if she honestly thinks that the girl can’t cut it.

6. When we come to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, Mirage and Chuck have a brief discussion showing their misgivings and doubts about going to war. Mirage definitely isn’t the “anything for duty” type that Messer is, although she tries. Likewise, Freyja is trying to stay upbeat in the face of paparazzi saying she’s a spy, but again, her rune gives her away by glowing bluish-purple.

I’m assuming that it’s not a real secret that Delta Flight and Walküre are connected to Rag-Nyan-Nyan, which makes it seem odd that it isn’t crowded with fans hoping to get autographs or anything. Maybe Ragnans are just polite that way.

(That said, I knew Paul McCartney’s favorite Mexican restaurant in my town, and also lived right near a Starbucks that was frequented by Scott Weiland, but I never saw any extra crowds at either place.)

7. Freyja’s frustration about the war (which she expresses by yelling at the sky) again feels totally authentic to me. The girl’s given up everything she had (which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like much) in order to join Walküre, and now it could all be ripped away from her.

And it gives Mirage a chance to tell the story of her grandparents, good ol’ Max and Milia, and how their marriage helped end Space War I (she skips over their later separation). Hayate is dubious, probably because he’s too young to have seen the original Macross when he was kid. For the rest of us, though, there are some great shots of the venerable interstellar couple, lovingly done by artists Hidetaka Tenjin and Risa Ebata. Of course, two of the shots are movie-style and one is TV-style, but we’re all used to that by now, aren’t we?

8. Freyja singing “When My Rune Shines Bright” in the backseat of Hayate’s fighter while he dances around seems destined to become one of the Famous Scenes of Macross. At the very least, it became one of the first real Delta memes, not least for the odd-but-charming little dance Freyja puts on. As I’ve said before, Adrian of the Speaker PODCast pointed out that her moves are (more-or-less) taken from Sheryl’s choreography for “Universal Bunny.” It’s not an exact match up, but it’s similar enough.

The scenes of Hayate’s Valk here are also extremely dynamic, both in the plane itself (reminding me of nothing so much as Shin learning to fly in Chapter 2 of Zero or the air shows in the “All That VF” short films) and in the swooping and racing camera angles, as though the filmmakers were having a tough time just keeping up.

And I’m sure the sudden prominence of the ending theme has NOTHING TO DO with the fact that the single was being released that week… right? Right.

(Either way, it seemed to work, as the single shot to Number One on most charts the day of its release, dethroning J-Pop legend Utada Hikaru… no mean feat.)

9. And of course, Messer comes along and spoils the fun.

Messer comic
This comic, er, seemed less funny a couple of months later…

Again, like Mikumo with Freyja, it’s unclear (at this point) whether Messer thinks that Hayate just needs a little discipline, or if he really does think that he’s a shit pilot. Still, he says EXACTLY the right words to make Hayate stick around, leading me to believe that he’s a more astute judge of character than one might think.

10. So the outbreak of war starts relatively quietly. With the totally fun flying sequence at the end of this episode, it’s easy to forget how much of it involves people standing around and talking. Which isn’t exactly a problem, but might become one if it keeps up.

And apart from the flying sequence, most of the stuff like I like about this episode are little touches: the backgrounds, the body language, the (for want of a better term) rune-language. More time spent with the Aerial Knights is always good, as well. But I definitely noticed that the episode is a little talkier than perhaps it should be.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: Keith’s Draken III

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: None, although “When My Rune Shines Bright” is exceptionally prominent.

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: Still a disappointing 1, although he does leap around quite a bit here.

THE GREAT MACROSS REWATCH 145 – Shocking STAGE DEBUT

Delta Ep.4

MACROSS DELTA
MISSION 04: Shocking STAGE DEBUT

ICONIC SCENE: FINALLY! The Drakens transform!

STORY DATE: 2067

BROADCAST DATE: April 24, 2016

1. We open with the Aerial Knights, just as we closed with them last time (the early episodes of Delta remind me of Macross Zero in that the closing scene of one episode seem to dictate what the opening scene of the next will be). To be honest, we never spend as much time with the Knights as I would like (and not only do I doubt I’m alone, but I’m guessing the staff knew it would be a problem, which is why one of the four manga series related to Delta was entirely devoted to fleshing out their backstory). Ultimately, I think we get BARELY enough about each of them for them to become genuine characters rather than stick figures (except maybe the twins, who remain little more than fuzzy snapshots in the show and only get more personality in the “Delta Mini-Theater” shorts that come as bonuses on the blu-rays), but not much more. It would be kind of interesting, I think, if there were a movie or something telling the story of Delta from the Windermerean perspective, although I know that no one would ever make that movie. Still, it’s a testament to the scriptwriters and actors that I’m interested in them at all. They could have easily just been cardboard villains, but they’ve definitely got more going on than that. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like delving into secondary material like novels and manga, I guess), I get the impression that there’s a tremendous amount of detailed biography given to them that we get only small glimpses of on screen.

And yes, most of them are pretty-boy-bishonen characters, designed pretty clearly to draw in a specific segment of the female audience. That’s fine by me. At least they’re not BORING bishonen.

Overall, plot-wise, the most important points here are Roid’s comment about the “ruins” which are “resonating,” and about Heinz’s failing health. Both of these will become central as the story progresses.

2. Rangan TVs look quite old-fashioned, don’t they? I’m reminded of Planet Zola from Macross Dynamite 7 and how backwards the inhabitants seemed, since they were still more radio fans than TV fans. Although there’s a twist when it turns out that the entire television is actually just a projected screen.

When we get to what’s REALLY going on – the welcome party for Feyja (and Hayate) – there’s a bit that Japanese fans probably found hilarious, where Captain Johnson (who is a total pimp in his white suit and black fedora) is about to launch into what is undoubtedly a very long speech, only to be cut off by Nina and Makina. Anyone who has ever been to a Japanese wedding can sympathize, as the speeches there typify “long-winded.”

(Although I note that Johnson’s statement about being asked to help assemble Walküre seems to contradict the episode about how they actually formed. They already existed before he got involved.)

And the music that starts up once they say “Cheers!” is one of my favorite tracks in the show… it’s officially titled “Rune-Pika” but got nicknamed by one of my friends as “Rune-Pika-Polka.” Basically, it’s the ending theme played (badly) on trombone with an accordion for backup. It’s hilarious.

Back to the topic, as far back (at least…) as Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” party scenes have been used as a great way to delineate many characters at one time, and so it works here, with the way each character toasts Freyja and Hayate saying something about their personality. Even further, I note that it looks like Messer has ice in his beer (although, knowing him, it probably isn’t beer. I assume he’s straight-edge).

This scene is also where Beth Muscat became my favorite bridge bunny of the series, for drinking everybody else under the table. Although it becomes clear later on that she’s just a total lush.

And look… I love seafood. ADORE it. If I were stuck on a barren island with nothing but fish to eat, I’d count myself lucky. But Ragnan jellyfish and sea spider simply don’t look appetizing (which is, of course, the joke).

3. As everyone starts talking about the “Vaccine Concert” that Walküre has been requested to give of Planet Randall, the reason that Walküre has to actually be present at their anti-Vár concerts is given: that is has to be LIVE. Recordings don’t capture the Bio-Fold Waves in their voices. Although one might wonder why electronic amplification works, as in here and Episode 6. I mean, it’s all filtered through electronics either way, right…?

(In this scene, please note Reina eating live jellyfish, and Q-Lulu licking off her plate while she’s oblivious.)

4. I really like Freyja’s drinking “Appa-ju” and declaring that Ragna feels like her home in Windermere, even though the environment is entirely different. It’s proof that Walküre is her true home, and whether it’s snowy or tropical has nothing to do with it. I try to point out the little touches in the animation that are brief but speak volumes, and this is one of the scriptwriting touches that does so. No one understands why Freyja feels at home on Ragna, and Freyja doesn’t understand it herself, but the viewer is (or, at least, should be) led to understand that Freyja views Ragna as like her home because this is where she truly belongs (regardless of what Mikumo thinks).

5. Speaking of whom, we get our first (YOWZA!) naked Mikumo, asking herself why she sings. Mikumo, of course, will be naked a lot in this series. In this case, it doesn’t seem sexual at all to me, it seems more like an expression of total freedom. Which will turn out to be ironic, as Mikumo is the most constrained (first figuratively, then literally) of all the members of Walküre. But for now, it just reinforces Mikumo’s reputation as the “Mysterious Venus,” whose actions and sentiments seem odd to us mere mortals.

6. The next scene briefly shows us “Ranka Beach” (I wonder how it got that name?) before the Aether separates from the Elysion. And yes, if you check your mythology dictionary, you’ll understand why the Aether’s twin is named the “Hemera.”

On board the Aether, Hayate meets his first real variable fighter, “Delta 05,” a VF-31J. I’m not sure what the “J” stands for anymore. Hikaru’s VF-1J was made in Japan, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t.

Oh, and Makina and Reina (but probably just Makina) have modified the fighter so that Hayate doesn’t need to wear a helmet while flying it… which will cause a little hiccup later. (Makina’s nicknames of all the other characters get full exposure here, and Freyja will also adopt them: Kana-Kana, Kumo-Kumo, Rei-Rei, Fre-Fre, Haya-Haya, Mira-Mira, and, presumably, Ara-Ara, Messa-Messa, and Cha-Cha).

And then when Freyja shows up, she explains that she got her mp3 player from an earthling who visited Windermere. You may not guess right now who that earthling was, but it’ll become more obvious as the series continues. She mentions that she listened to Minmay, Fire Bomber, Sheryl Nome, and Ranka (plus, in the novelization, the Milky Dolls and Chelsea Scarlet), which may seem tame to YOU, but to ME, remind me of Václav Havel, a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, who later became Czechoslovakia’s last president and the Czech Republic’s first, and who secretly carried about a pamphlet of the lyrics of the songs of the Velvet Underground, which were forbidden under the law at the time. See? Pop songs CAN be revolutionary! (And yes, by my standards, the Velvet Underground are “pop.” I like pop.) You can see a similar thing (apparently) happening in North Korea, as Hong Kong and Taiwanese dramas get smuggled in, and North Koreans grow interested in the lifestyles of the characters. Reruns of “Dallas” (again, apparently) had much the same effect upon Soviets: they were shown a kind of life they had never thought even possible before.

On the down side, we also learn here that Windermereans only live for roughly thirty years, because of their amazing physical capabilities.

7. Wow, Kumo-Kumo isn’t terribly nice, telling Freyja that if she doesn’t perform well on her debut stage, she’ll be fired. Again, in contrast to Sheryl, who was always supportive of Ranka.

That said, we get a scene of Walküre pumping themselves up before showtime, which humanizes them to a degree, and the second appearance of their “magical girl” freeze-frames.

(Oh, and Freyja’s final “Music is ENERGY!” bit, which cements her into the Walküre lineup, focuses on her butt for a few too many frames.)

And THEN when they start singing “Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT,” their poses became rather iconic… from dudes at cons to Hi-Metal R VF-1 figures to cosplayer dabbing… the poses were definitely studied by fans.

And the choreography here, Walküre plus Delta Flight, is some on the best in the entire series. Since as soon as Walküre start singing, Hayate is dancing. And you have to admire Mirage for playing along with him. It makes for a great air show.

That said… the whole scene feel unrealistic to me, because Freyja has the lead part of the song. As anyone who follows idol groups that switch out old members for new can tell you, the newbies never get the lead until they’ve proven themselves especially popular.

And THAT said, the song is pretty cool… a nice disco song with a good string section and an exceptionally funky bass. And the “Blüme” costumes are among my favorites of Walküre’s wardrobe.

Oh, and hey, remember in “Sayonara no Tsubasa” during the “Rainbow Bear-Bear” song, where mini-Rankas appeared delivering teddy bear to crowd members? Mini-Freyjas and Mini-Mikumos give high-fives to the crowd here. Much as, after the first (free) Walküre live concert, Minori Suzuki (Freyja) and JUNNA (Mikumo) (full name: Junna Sakai) gave high-fives to the audience members.

8. And naturally, it all gets interrupted by the Aerial Knights, who finally reveal who they are… in one of the greatest transformation sequences since Episode 1 of the the first Macross series.

Apparently, how the Drakens transformed and what exactly they transformed into was a closely-guarded secret until this episode, which meant that even at the toy fairs, the Draken toys had to be posed in such a way that no one could see the underside well (and photography was strictly prohibited… but that’s usual in such situations). A number of Bandai people were apparently terrified that fans would figure out how the Draken transformed before this episode aired, and indeed, one Japanese fan NEARLY figured it out (and posted his idea on Twitter).

9. The OTHER surprise here is that the NUNS pilots who show up are infected by the Vár, but are still able to fly (and fight) in formation. Before this, any Vár-infected people simply went berserk, but this indicates that the infected can be controlled in some way.

Oh, and when Heinz starts singing, everyone kinda of flinches, but Messer seems especially affected…

And the whole thing is a diversion… distracting Walküre while they take Planet Voldor.

10. And this, to my way of thinking, is the end of the introduction. Finally, everyone is in the right place and the war has been declared. The story truly begins here.

Again, the episode looks better than it needs to, with the climaxing concert and battle looking especially good and the Draken transformation being the stand-out. And this is almost a perfect episode, with humor, action, plot and character scenes, and music all balanced effortlessly.

And of course it was during the scripting (NOT THE PRODUCTION OR AIRING) of this episode that the decision was made to extend the series from thirteen episode plus a movie to a full twenty-six episodes. For better or for worse.

OP: “If I Love Only Once”

ED: “When My Rune Shines Bright”

EYECATCH: VF-31J (Hayate Type)

NEW SONGS IN THIS EPISODE: Uncertain COSMIC MOVEMENT

NUMBER OF TIMES BOGUE HAS LUNGED FORWARD: 1